It’s been hard to avoid the hype surrounding Hello Games astoundingly ambitious project No Mans Sky. It’s had delays and some of the toughest development mishaps to overcome for any developer but its finally here and I have my hands firmly gripped on the controller after spending a thought provoking near 20 hours with the game. So is it worth your time or is it what its critics believed it would be? Our No Mans Sky Review.
For those of you looking to avoid Spoilers it’s probably wise to go into this with the knowledge I may spill a bean or two but my play through has been spent wandering and exploring of the beaten path as much as possible something the game is more than happy to let you do. I haven’t reached the centre of the universe either so there’s no chance of me spoiling what that will look like and from my time playing the game I’m not sure it would offer anything earth shattering that have me altering my current opinion.
In a universe so huge where do you start? Do you get to choose or are you placed in a predefined planet or portion of space? Am I alone? All so many questions but the biggest that have followed No Mans Sky through development and navigating its PR trail are answered. You start on a planet, procedurally generated of course, you are alone and your start point will absolutely be different to mine. All be it there is a couple of little bits that remain the same.
Your ship is in need of repair, you’re on a random planet and there is little to guide you. All you know is you have to repair that ship if you want to proceed. Actually you don’t. I followed the prompts and set about finding the materials I needed but this is where the adventure begins and No Mans Sky will happily let you explore that planet from the outset. Nothing is closed off, nothing is linear this is truly our adventure and you can take it land, sea or space.
However not all planets are made equal and the harsh environments may impact that decision to explore massively. My world was full of toxic rain showers that impacted my exosuit being able to sustain my adventure for long periods of time and led to a real frantic sense of discovery in order to escape the dangers around me.
No man’s Sky does an exceptional job of making you feel small in a world so vast, you know nothing and this adds to the sense of adventure as you mine rocks, search for materials to get you to where you need to be. From the outset your aim is to gather the materials needed to repair your ship and get exploring the universe. This at first isn’t incredibly intuitive and within minutes I was coming up against what I deem the game’s biggest failing. It’s terrible inventory management.
Let me explain you have a ship inventory and a suit inventory. Both of which are limited and you will max out quicker than you would expect. It’s so limiting that it actually caused me to put the controller down and properly think about how to move bits around in order to ensure I wasn’t discarding anything of value. Perhaps this is what Hello Games wanted but for me and I’ll assume many others reading this review will cause hours of frustrations. For balance you can add to your inventory through Suit upgrades and by finding new ships.
Actually finding new ships is pretty dam cool and is a neat way of offering up some variety and encouraging exploration. Finding these upgrades is something a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. I had explored countless planets visiting outposts, abandoned buildings and space stations. However, on one Planet I found two suit upgrades simply from looking and investigating those green mystery icons that popped up on my scans. In short this is something Hello Games need to address, there is simply not enough space and from the outset the high focus on crafting is done in such a way that players will get themselves stuck by not knowing what can and should be keep or used. For example, material is required for your thrusters, discard that and you aren’t getting of the planet anytime soon and to make matters worse if you have no space in your suit you can’t gather that vital material without discarding something else. It’s a roundabout crafting frustration.
We were promised more than just exploring planets in No Man’s Sky and for the most part its delivered if a bit repetitive. Want to spice it up and be a bit of a rebel then you can set about shooting at whatever takes your fancy. Dog Fighting in space is like the coolest thing ever and really shows the potential this game can have both for VR and if it was a Multiplayer experience. I’d really like Hello Games to do an Elite Dangerous and offer up an online arena shooter of sorts. It would certainly go some way to appeasing the lack of interactive online multiplayer in the game.
What the game has delivered on in an amazing way is its soundtrack, the band 65DaysofStatic have made an album that gets the tone and feel of No Mans Sky perfectly making hopping between planets all the more immersive and enjoyable.
After all this game is about exploring, scanning and crafting. Its depth is impressive and the procedurally produced worlds, creatures and plantation are all incredibly well presented. However, the game isn’t without its flaws and in fact my game sessions aren’t ended by me but by the continuous crashing where the game throws me a lovely gibberish error code and fires me to the PlayStation dashboard. If this was a one off I could give it a pass however this is a constant issue and my only advice is save regularly and expect the unexpected.
When the game isn’t crashing on you then you will get a slick experience the game runs at 30fps and most things are smooth from jumping to Hyperdrive to flying into planet atmospheres. It is a technical masterpiece in many ways with no loading screens and blocks impacting your experience.
For all its issues and its moments of brilliance I can’t help but feel this game will be forgotten about by Christmas and shamefully remembered as the game that didn’t deliver on its hype. I can’t blame Hello Games for this, they have brought a concept and imagination to life in a way few could have imagined, however should Sony have focused so much attention on such a small studio., I don’t think so. However, see past the games inevitable limitations and players will get a game that is truly infinite full of discovery and a guarantee that the value in their purchase does exist, I would expect Hello Games to patch the errors so we can live on however it’s the long term evolution from this studio that has me excited about what No Mans Sky can become in the months and years ahead.
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